NYCS Swag Spotlight: Kree Harrison

Kree Harrison

Kree Harrison may have been born in Woodville, Texas but the singer-songwriter who tells us in our recent interview that she was singing before she could even speak, made the move to Nashville much earlier than many of our Swag Spotlights.  Harrison rose to popularity after her incredible performances on American Idol back in 2013.  The songstress finished in the runner-up spot on the singing competition show but what you may not know is that she started her career in music when she was only ten years old. “I always loved music and entertaining and I think the first time I sang in public I was three years old,” she tells us. Feeling natural on stage in front of an audience, she explains she was bitten by the bug very early on.

Thankful for her parents support, they uprooted their lives and moved to Nashville when Harrison was only nine years old. “It’s crazy, more commonly, most people know me from American Idol but the truth is I’ve been here for 20 years,” she says. Laughing she tells us how she and her little brother couldn’t believe that you could call a pizza place and they would deliver the pizza right to your house, considering back in her small home town of Texas, that wasn’t even a thing.

She loved all types of music growing up but recalls Otis Redding being played around her house and the way the soulful music made her feel.  Besides R&B she listened to old school country music like Tammy Wynette, Patsy Cline, and Merle Haggard and as she got older, she was influenced by ’90s country like The Judds, Trisha Yearwood and Lee Ann Womack just like many of the modern-day country artists.

As an artist, Harrison loves to mash the two genres, creating her own lane and a signature sound. “I really do try to marry my influences all together and hope that it sounds like me and not just, ‘Well she is just country or just blues,” she explains. She hates that genres try to put creative people in a box, laughing as she tells us that the night prior to our interview she was with friends and she played a Merle Haggard immediately followed by covering a Cardi B song.

Her latest single “I Love The Lie” was a track Harrison heard during pre-production for her upcoming album and she just knew she had to record it. The honest track was written by Chris Stapleton, his wife Morgane Stapleton and Liz Rose (“Girl Crush”). We discussed the decision for her to cut an outside song for her album and to be the first single from her sophomore album. “It just stood out to me, like a ‘duh’ moment, I have to sing this, I believe in it,” she told us. ” It would be ignorant for me to just write my whole record without listening to outside songs, especially in my writing community here, I am so spoiled with songs that are written by singer-songwriters or just writers that write amazing stuff, I can’t imagine crossing it out just because I am not a writer on that song.”

She looks ahead to releasing her second album, excited to get the music out to her fans and get on a radio tour to promote “I Love The Lie”.

To keep up with Harrison, follow her on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

“I Love The Lie” is now available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released music here on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.

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NYCS Swag Spotlight Lauren Duski

In a small town in Northern Michigan, our next Swag Spotlight cultivated a love for all genres of music and learned what real true love was from her family. Lauren Duski who was the runner-up of season 12 of The Voice, has just released her debut EP,  Midwestern Girl and is proud of the stories she now gets to tell as a singer-songwriter no longer letting fear control her life. Her parents gave her a well rounded musical education from Jackson Browne and Bob Seger to Celine Dion and Elton John, but ’90s country music was always a staple. “I loved music so much and even though I didn’t always understand what these artists were saying,  I could feel the emotion and it made me feel something as a kid,” she tells us in our recent interview.

After spending holidays forcing her family to watch her sing around the house, her mother entered her into a karaoke competition in their hometown when she was 9 years old. “I got up there and rocked “Heads Carolina, Tails California” by Jo Dee Messina and I will never forget being up on stage and seeing how music moves people and how it resonated with people,” Duski says.  “People were having a blast and I was addicted, and that was the moment I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

She graduated from the University of Michigan with all intentions to go to dental school, but then she had an opportunity to open for Thompson Square, and after years of not being on stage, she once again felt the high of performing and connecting with an audience. She made the move to Nashville in 2013, spending three years not having enough confidence to really pursue the artist career and spending all of her time in writing rooms. She recalls one night calling her mom to tell her that she wanted to move home and apply to dental school, little did she know the very next day she would get a call to audition for The Voice. After the competition show ended she knew that was when she had to put the work in, taking a year and a half to write and record her first EP which she was finally ready to release to the world and to all of the fans she had garnered over the years.

Midwestern Girl is the perfect compilation of heartfelt storytelling and her sultry vocal abilities simply connect you to her lyrics. Each song is relatable, Duski taking you through poignant parts of life and singing about her insecurities and how it’s okay to embrace them. “Over life you build layers and layers, experiencing bullying as a kid, being socially awkward through high school and in college, just always being super uncomfortable in my own skin, I remember choosing to pursue music again and being so scared to be up on stage, it hit me how insecure I was,” she honestly explains. “Having awareness at that moment, maybe this is what I need to write and tell people, I am so glad I did, it has given other people the courage to say ‘I’m not okay too and that’s okay but I am working on it’.

The project ends with the most tender, sad topics that Duski turned into an incredible song with cowriters Liz Rose and Brandon Hood. Written in an hour, “The Weather (Grandpa’s Song)” is a tribute to her grandfather and how hard it was to watch him after losing his wife, her grandmother two Christmases ago. “She was sick for a while so I was prepared for it but what I wasn’t prepared for was watching my grandpa try to pick up the pieces and navigate life without her, it was really difficult,” she pauses, clearly emotional as she tries to explain the situation. She comments on their love and how it inspires her every single day. “It’s been so special to end the EP that way, to honor my family that way, it was a real treat, they were the reason why, when I think about love I think about them,” she says. “It’s been wonderful to have that example in my life.”

As one of the members of the CMT Next Women of Country class of 2019, Duski is looking forward to the year ahead and releasing two more projects that will reveal more of the music she has been working on. To keep up with Lauren Duski be sure to follow her on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Midwestern Girl is now available everywhere you buy or stream music. Take a listen below and check out more new recently released music here on our ‘New Country Music’ playlist. Be sure to give the playlist a follow for your weekly new country music fix.

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NYCS Swag Spotlight Lena Stone

Lena Stone

This week’s Swag Spotlight shines on Lena Stone, the Concord, Massachusets native that is one of the founding members of the Song Suffragettes in Nashville. Living about forty minutes outside of Boston, Stone recalls her childhood being filled with music, being the oldest of three sisters that all loved to sing. Her parents were also both music lovers, playing incredible singer-songwriters like James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Carol King around the house. Continuing to love the great lyricists, Stone grew to love artists like Michelle Branch, Liz Phair, Sara Bareilles and of course, Taylor Swift. While visiting her grandparents in Florida when she was twelve years old, she was exposed to country music for the very first time when she heard Sugarland’s “Baby Girl” on the radio. “I just felt like this is me, this is my song, this is my story,” she tells us. “I then found Keith Urban and Rascal Flatts then right around then Carrie Underwood won American Idol so that new wave of country music started when I was starting to have my own taste in music.”

Loving story-telling and lyrics, she remembers making up stories and turning them into songs when she was in grade school, following in the footsteps of her grandmother who was a music therapist. “I just kind of grew up thinking that everyone wrote songs, I thought that was normal,” she laughs.  “I thought it was like people keeping a diary and that was how people dealt with their feelings, I just started making up melodies I just stuck with it.” After picking up a guitar and seeing Taylor Swift write and record all of her own music, Stone just knew that was what she wanted to do with her life.

She attended GRAMMY Camp which is a 5-day program in L.A for high school students who want to pursue a career in the music industry. “Just being included as a high school student was such a boost of confidence for me, the music industry can be really challenging, especially when you are a 17-year-old girl living in Massachusets where there really is no country music scene, it was amazing to be inspired by other people,” Stone told us. It was during that week that she met with Darrell Brown, a songwriter who had written “You’ll Think Of Me” for Keith Urban and “Why Don’t We Just Dance” for Josh Turner and he listened to some of her songs and told her that if she wanted to pursue songwriting, she better move to Nashville. And that she did, she attended Vanderbilt, and eventually teamed up with other rising female artists in Nashville including our Swag Session album Kalie Shorr, to create Song Suffragettes. Song Suffragettes is a collective of female singer-songwriters that performs on Monday nights at The Listening Room Café in Nashville.  She explains to us how proud she is to be a part of the first wave of people calling attention to the lack of females being played in country music. “We don’t want more time on the radio than men, we just want to be played on the radio and the same opportunities,” Stone explains. “I think it is such an important movement and any way I can be apart of standing up for women especially in the music industry, I am all about it.”

Stone is currently in the studio recording music that she has been writing for the past few years and tells us how excited she is for everyone to hear it. “I feel like I really got to establish myself with my first EP and I can take the next step and now I want to show you some deeper complicated, fun and interesting sides to me.”  Focusing less on relationships and more on the struggles and triumphs of figuring out how to be an adult, she wants her music to reflect exactly what she is going through as a young female in today’s society.

She just announced that she will be playing her very first show in New York City on April 16th at Berlin. Ticket info and more available at https://www.lenastone.com/

To keep up with Lena Stone follow them on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

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NYCS Swag Spotlight Britnee Kellog

Britnee Kellogg

“Regardless of what it looks like in the end and how successful I am, my kids will know that I worked really hard to do what I loved”

Our Swag Spotlight this week is not only a hardworking and dedicated country music artist but an equally devoted mother to her three young children. Britnee Kellogg, a Vancouver, Washington native, knew from an extremely young age that country music was the career path she was meant to pursue. When she was just nine-years-old, her grandparents took her to a Johnny Cash concert, and that was all it took for her to fall in love with country music and set her sights on a profession in the incredible genre we all know and love. Kellogg’s grandparents surrounded her with the older traditional style of country music growing up, everyone from Reba McEntire, Waylon & Willie and all of the greats in between.

Soon after attending that life-changing concert, Kellogg began taking vocal lessons straight away and soon set out to perform at local fairs and singing competitions. This later led to the songstress becoming Miss Teen Washington while she was in high school. After winning the pageant, she received the opportunity to head down to Nashville, Tennessee for a chance to become Miss Teen America. Kellogg promptly fell in love with Music City and all it had to offer. Ever since that trip, she has makes an effort to visit several times a year and recently at least once a month.

Kellogg currently still resides in Vancouver, Washington for a handful of reasons, the main being her children. But she tells us; “If an opportunity came, I would pack my bags up in five minutes and leave right away.”
The singer-songwriter is a massive advocate for working parents everywhere, especially the ones who set out to follow their dream career and are dedicated to following through with what they are passionate about, no matter what field of work it may be in. “One of my biggest reasons for doing this is, I want to inspire moms, dads, people, in general, to pursue their dreams regardless of what their circumstances look like [..] It’s not easy, it’s really hard most days, but I just want people to know it’s so worth it!”

Kellogg’s current single, “Someone Somebody Loves” is the lead single and title track off of her upcoming EP, which is slated for release next Friday, April 5th. She wrote this song back in 2013 when she was feeling defeated in multiple aspects of her life. Going through a tough time personally and professionally, she thought to herself, “I just want to be someone somebody loves.” Kellogg knew she wasn’t the only one going through a difficult time and that she could help inspire others who were struggling, to know that someday you’ll have that opportunity. She tells us, “It’s not just about love, it’s about life in general.” This track originally didn’t make the cut for the EP, until she played it live on tour while opening for Blake Shelton last summer. Tons of people came up to her asking where they could get that song and she immediately switched out one of the other songs that were in the running and made this the title track.

“The EP is a total compilation of songs that kind of tell my story from the pain that I’ve been through, the heartbreak that I went through, but then also the fun part of me, the whiskey drinking side of me. And also falling in love and being in an amazing relationship now. It’s a start to where I am now,” she says. Kellogg was adamant that it was important to her to be a co-writer on every song she puts out, which stems from writing her first song in 7th grade and falling in love with the art. The full EP was created in Nashville, where the songstress worked with a number of incredibly talented musicians, from Miranda Lambert’s keyboard player and Carly Pearce’s dobro player to Little Big Town’s drummer.

Kellogg has big plans for the rest of 2019. She is currently writing for her full-length album and gearing up for a small northwest tour, with stops in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana. The Vancouver native also tells us she has set out a few hopes and goals this year which are to visit Nashville more often for writing and recording sessions this year, as well as begin to participate in writers rounds, with her biggest goal being to get signed to a record label.

Be sure to follow Kellogg on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to not miss a single announcement or release in 2019.

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NYCS Swag Spotlight: PJ North

PJ North

Growing up right outside of Columbus, Ohio, PJ North has had quite an interesting journey to Nashville and country music involving a hip-hop music career as well as being a part-time race car driver. In our recent chat, our Swag Spotlight of the week told us all about his childhood and his eventual transition from hip hop battles to country music.

From a young age, North was always on stage performing whether it was taking dance classes including hip-hop, ballroom, jazz or swing or performing in talent shows, he always knew he wanted to be an entertainer. With influences all over the musical map including Michael Jackson, Fall Out Boy, Chris Brown and of course, his very first concert, Brooks & Dunn, he attributes his love for all genres to his childhood. “My first concert was Brooks and Dunn and from that point forward I was hooked and I knew I wanted to be an artist.” Starting out as sort of a party trick, his friends would ask him to rap lines from popular hip hop songs at the time, and he started noticing rap battles was something he was actually very good at.

Another passion from when he was only ten years old was drag racing. “That’s the only thing that I care about besides my wife and my family, racing and music are pretty much it for me, they are 1 and 1A,” North tells us. This is my 21st year racing, it’s brought me more than I ever would have thought, I wouldn’t even be in Nashville if it wasn’t for drag racing.”

After writing a racing-themed hip-hop song that went viral in the tight-knit racing community, he made the switch to country music, something he has felt has been in his heart since he was young.  He moved to Nashville and now attributes his songwriting skills now to his ability to rap on the fly, he often times sits in a room and is able to come up with lyrics for what he is feeling and what he wants to say as an artist. Currently, he is a fan of Sam Hunt and artists that are blurring the lines of country, hip hop and R&B.

He just recently released his first country song, “B Sides” a track he co-wrote about keeping those special memories of a relationship once it’s over. Check out the video above. Looking ahead to 2019, he hopes to get out and play his new music and continue to create fans of his unique blend of country music. “I am all about the live show. I’ve played venues all over the country because of the racetrack thing but now we are getting back in the lane to play some country venues,” North says. Be sure to follow PJ North on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for all upcoming announcements!

 

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NYCS Swag Spotlight: Stephanie Quayle

Stephanie Quayle

Ahead of our Babes Booze & Brunch event this Sunday we are excited to share with you our Swag Spotlight with Stephanie Quayle who will be performing a live set at the event. Born and raised in Bozeman, Montana Quayle truly lived the life of a country kid.  She lived on her family’s farm, her stepfather was a veterinarian and she grew up around tons of animals, especially on horses since she was a very young girl. Her grandmother who taught piano taught her how to play when she was only four years old, and she recalls music always being a part of her life.  “In our barn, we had this little silver AM radio that would always play country music, and for me, there was no place I would rather be that in that barn with my horse listening to country music,” she tells us. She explains that growing up her mother would listen to Joni Mitchell as well as the country greats, Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, and George Strait while her father brought out the rock n roll influences with Led Zeppelin.

She recalls writing poetry and nourishing her creative side by writing music when she was twelve years old but picked up a guitar when she was fifteen.  After a rough 9th grade dealing with bullying and hazing, Quayle took part in an exchange program in Switzerland and her after-school program included being the lead singer of a band and touring the country. “It was such an exciting time, it was all brand new and getting up on stage, that is when I knew this would be my life,” she explains.  “I didn’t know how, or what the next steps would be but this is where I make the most sense, so whatever I had to do to so this could be my career was what I was going to figure out.”

She ultimately made the move to Nashville eight years ago and has been throwing her self into her music since that first opportunity in Switzerland. She is now making music that she loves, with people who she adores and loves being able to connect with her fans. “How do I create more soundtracks to their moments, we all have those songs that tie us to a moment, a place, a feeling an emotion there is so much that music provides and I love being the landscape,” she says is her goal with her career.

Stephanie Quayle

Rick Diamond/Getty Images for CMT

Not only was she one of the artists named by Karen Fairchild at last year’s CMT Artist of the Year, but she was also inducted into CMT’s Next Women of Country Class of 2019. “Ever since I learned of the program when they started it, I always wanted to earn my spot and earn the respect of my peers and know that I am worthy of that title and continue to pay it forward to other artists and shed light on extraordinary women,” she says. Quayle tells us that every time she has an opportunity like this or when she made her debut on the Grand Ole Opry stage, she feels a responsibility to push herself and to exceed her expectations. “I have earned every step and I take it very seriously, there are so many people that work tirelessly to make sure that my voice is heard, it’s not just about me, it is my job, it employees people, we have the coolest job in the world, we get to live our lives through music but it’s also a business.”

Her latest single which was released last month, “If I Was A Cowboy” was written by what Quayle calls the “trifecta of super awesome”, Shane McAnally, Ross Copperman, and Nicolle Gaylon. “I am a Western kid from Montana, I’ve been on the back of a horse since I was a teeny tiny human,” she laughs. “I have always wanted to be a cowboy, I grew up with cowboys with that cowboy strength, when I heard this song, I knew it was made for me and I don’t mean that arrogantly, it is just so honest to who I am, where I’ve been and what I’ve felt.”  She wanted the production to really honor her roots and reflect on the times when she stayed in a situation too long, knowing it was wrong or when she let her emotions linger in a bad place, wishing she was a cowboy and having the strength to move on faster.

She looks ahead to the new year, she will be joining us in New York City for our ‘Babes, Booze & Brunch’ event on March 10th and is going to be touring a lot this year, promoting her new single. She also told us that they have a ton of music and she hopes to release her next album later this year. Grab your tickets to see Stephanie Quayle this Sunday at Refinery Rooftop here and follow her on Instagram to keep up with all of her new announcements.

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NYCS Swag Spotlight: Tiffany Woys

“I want to be a vehicle right now at this point in my career for the songwriters that are writing great songs, and really showcase what this community and what Nashville was built on, and that’s songwriting. It all starts with a song.”

Tiffany Woys

 

Born and raised in Sacramento, California, Tiffany Woys is our next Swag Spotlight.  Woys is proud of being another artist hailing from the west coast, understanding that not growing up in the typical southern household would give her a different vantage point when pursuing a career in country music. She recalls in a recent interview the very first time she remembers being enchanted by music when she was 5 years old was seeing Leann Rimes perform the National Anthem. From there she learned to love power vocalists such as Celine Dion, and she quickly decided she wanted to be a singer and perform on stage. As she got older, she started to fall in love with vocalists like Martina McBride, Faith Hill, and Carrie Underwood.  “Country music is based on a story and so vulnerable, honest and truth-telling, that’s what brought me from pop music to country music, those are the songs that I related to more than ever,” Woys explains. “I am such a firm believer that a location or genre doesn’t determine anything, country music just felt like home.”

After making the decision to pursue music instead of becoming a criminal law attorney, she got a band together and started touring up and down the west coast.  She mentions how her parents have always been such strong supporters of her dream and during college, she would drive home each weekend to work with a vocal coach and really hone her craft. With idols like Whitney Houston, Barbara Streisand and of course, Celine Dion, Woys knew she needed to work hard to become the vocalist she knew she could be.

After five years on the coast, learning the ins and outs of the music business and what she wanted to say, she built up her confidence as an artist, packed her bags and made the move to Music City.  She put out her very first collection of songs last Friday, a self-titled EP featuring four tracks. Although she did not write any of the songs, she is proud to champion songwriters and songs that otherwise wouldn’t have been recorded. “I just never wanted to put out my own music that I’ve written if it was just going to be okay, to me the best song wins,” Woys says. “There are so many amazing writers that aren’t getting their songs heard because they aren’t songwriter/artists. I want to showcase the songwriters, I don’t want to pretend or shy away from the fact that I haven’t written the songs.”

She tells us that she has listened to hundreds of songs since moving to Nashville, trying to come up with four that will cohesively introduce her and her story. “I am such an advocate of finding your love story, finding your love, my message with the EP is my story with starting,” she explains. “I’m not finished yet but I wanted to share my journey so far, of love and its ups and downs, the songs go in order of things that have happened to me.”  Some of the songwriters who have had huge success in Nashville have written this collection of songs including, Shane McAnally, Nicolle Gaylon, Trevor Rosen, Jason Saenz, and more. “Other than singing a big dream of mine is finding the perfect someone for me, I do believe in the fairytale, happy ending. This EP is sharing pieces of me and a big part of who I am.”
In 2019, she looks forward to getting back out and performing these new songs.  Be sure to follow Tiffany Woys on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for upcoming tour dates and announcements.

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NYCS Swag Spotlight: Kalie Shorr

“I just always had this really deep interest in lyrics and that’s probably why I started writing my own songs”

Kalie Shorr grew up in Portland, Maine, where she was heavily influenced by a blend of rock and country music. From Foo Fighters and Nirvana to Dixie Chicks and Shania Twain, Shorr knew from a very young age, music was what she was destined to pursue. “I just love songs. My dad always tells this story of when I was probably five years old, we were driving and listening to “Last Kiss” by Pearl Jam. It’s a really heartbreaking song about a couple who were in high school and they get in a car accident and the girl passes away and he gets her last kiss and it’s really sad,” she told us in a recent phone interview. “A five-year-old shouldn’t really be able to wrap their head around that but we’re just listening and driving down the road and he’s not paying attention, then he looks over and I’m just sobbing my eyes out. From then on, I loved country music and I just loved songs that made me cry and he was like ‘this is so bizarre because you’re like a child,’ but it was what I was supposed to do.”

Shorr wrote her first song when she was just six-years-old and started to play the guitar when she was eleven-years-old. When she was nine she attended her very first concert at Madison Square Garden, with Dixie Chicks as headliners and Michelle Branch as the opening act. Seeing those women live, solidified her passion for song and lyric. Shorr’s parents were always supportive of her musical career but were adamant she waited until she was an adult to pursue it as a full-time career.

In middle school, Shorr started her very own Nirvana cover band with a group of friends. She discovered a new love for country music once the band broke up, and knew she wanted to focus specifically on that genre. When she was fourteen-years-old, she told her parents she wanted to move to Nashville once she was finished with school. Shorr worked hard and graduated high school early, while also working at a local pizza shop to save up for the big move. Once she got to Nashville, she began working at a hot dog stand on Broadway and “hustled” until she met her current manager, Todd Cassetty. The two became close and started Song Suffragettes together. They decided to pick a lineup of female country artists and Shorr was very hands-on with this aspect, building the show from the ground up. Song Suffragettes was where the singer-songwriter met her first friends and collaborators in town.

Shorr’s current single, or should we say, singles, were recently released in a unique way. “Awake” is the name of the song, Shorr originally wrote a country version, but the moment it was written, she knew she could hear it becoming something more. She continuously asked her manager for ideas, until he was out to dinner, brainstorming ideas with the head of Radio Disney and it turned into something never done before. Shorr would simultaneously release the country version of “Awake” and the pop version of “Awake” on the same day. You could hear “Awake (Country Mix)” on Radio Disney Country and flip the station to Radio Disney, and hear “Awake (Pop Mix).” Shorr added Jonny Brenns on the pop mix, he sings the second verse of the song, rewriting the lyric from a guy’s perspective, which she thinks is super valuable. Hearing both versions, she wants listeners to know, “It’s not just, ‘stop calling me when you’re drunk, I wanna be there for you so much but you’re not there for me.”

Shorr is currently working on her debut full-length studio album, slated for release later this year. She has written every track on the album, with the exception for one cover which she is extremely excited about. She tells us the record will be completely different from anything she’s ever done but unapologetically herself, honest, vulnerable and full of estrogen. Briefly touching on female sexism in the music industry, Shorr hopes things will continue to change, “I know it’s my job to keep talking about it and not letting people get away with it.”

Check out our Swag Session with the songstress from last year, below.

Be sure to follow Shorr on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to not miss a single announcement or release in 2019.

 

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NYCS Swag Spotlight: Rob Baird

Memphis, Tennessee native who now resides in Austin, Texas, Rob Baird recalls growing up being surrounded by music. Memphis, although not as famous for music as Nashville, has shaped the landscape of the blues, rock n roll, and Motown genre.  Baird in a recent phone conversation chats about his new record and his switch from a cattle rancher to a singer-songwriter . Growing up he tells us his very first concert was ZZ Top when he was in the third grade but that he was inspired by Al Green and the music that made Memphis famous. “If you grew up in Memphis, you just drive by Sun Records 3000 times in your lifetime,” he tells us. “I feel like Memphis doesn’t get as much credit as it deserves for being such a great music town”.

He started playing music in college and when people started showing up to his shows, he knew that maybe the switch from ranch manager to musician was the best decision to make. After releasing his first two records in Nashville, he made the move to Austin. “I’m obsessed with where I live, I just love it,” Baird tells us of the city. Although all of the writing for his fourth studio record took place at his kitchen table in Texas, he traveled to Nashville to record After All with longtime friend Rick Brantley as the producer under the direction of Jeremy Ferguson (Cage the Elephant and Lucie Silvas).

He called the shots on this record, writing all ten tracks and allowing only people who he felt knew him and his mission, to work with him to achieve it. “For this project, we just needed someone that we really trusted, that knew me well, and cared about the project, we wanted dear friends who understood what we want to do,” Baird explains. The tracks are autobiographical, telling the story of heartbreak, loss, and healing. Featuring Lucie Silvas’ smokey voice on background vocals on “Burning Blue”, it is one of the highlights on After All.

Looking ahead to 2019, Baird is promoting the new record playing shows not only in Texas but across the south. Check out our review from his intimate showcase in Fort Worth, Texas here.

Follow Rob Baird on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and head to his website for all of his tour dates.

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NYCS Swag Spotlight: Jenna Paulette

Jenna Paulette

“I was always wanting to be apart of the national scene”

Growing up on a family ranch outside of the Dallas, Texas area, Jenna Paulette was heavily influenced by many country musical artists, notably George Strait and the Dixie Chicks. “I think I fell in love with, especially George Strait, the way that he takes songs that just make you feel something and the pedal steel in most of his stuff is just so hauntingly beautiful and communicates emotion I think better than words do sometimes and I was just romanced by that whole idea,” she told us in a recent interview. “I related to George because he kinda represents all of my favorite men in my life like my grandfather is a cowboy and taught me everything I know about cattle and I just really respect who he is as a person and what he represents as a man and so I think I just took all of that and was like ‘If I can make people feel the way George Strait makes me feel then I’ll be doing a good job,’ that’s a major goal for me.” “Cowboy Take Me Away” and “Wide Open Spaces” by Dixie Chicks were among songs that made Paulette feel those things, while she was experiencing life on a ranch.

Singing in choir herself, her mother recognized the talent and passion Paulette had for country music at a very young age and always encouraged her dreams. Paulette was apart of four choirs in high school, including an all-state team group a regional group. Everything she experienced from life on the ranch made her recognize she always wanted to pursue country music as a career. Paulette started writing music in college and became more interested in the people who were writing her favorite songs rather than the artists who were singing them, “I would read the back of Carrie Underwoods’ records and be like ‘Oh my gosh, who are writing these songs that are making me cry’ and one of them was Ashley Gorley.” After college, Paulette visited Nashville when she was introduced to Gorley by the wife of the pastor of Gorley’s church. Shortly after meeting the hit-making songwriter, Paulette sent Gorley the first songs she had ever written which grew into him seeing the potential in her and coached her into commercial country songwriting. Continuing to be her mentor for the next couple of years, Paulette was traveling back and forth from Texas to Nashville, visiting Nashville once a month for a week at a time writing as many songs as she could with Gorley. He then sat her down, telling her “If you want to play this game, you have to be present to win.” Paulette then made the move to Nashville at the beginning of 2016.

Meeting with labels, she would describe her style of music as a cowgirl vibe which resulted in being pitched with songs that would be “too western” or “so pop it wasn’t country at all,” that’s when she knew she would have to show everyone what she meant. “One day I was on this road trip and the words ‘New West’ came into mind because I was like I’m a cowgirl but I’m so not like old school cowgirl, I’m a new version of whatever that means and all of the feelings that come along with it that you love about me, the west and the ideas of the west and new west popped into my brain and that just kind of became my goal and I started writing towards that and everything started making sense.” Paulette describes ‘New West’ as commercial country music with western ideas and undertones and a slight bit of pop underneath. She then moved on to release three songs with corresponding music videos on CMT last fall that made those people in Nashville begin to understand her sound. “I am really thankful that it didn’t happen before now because I don’t think I knew who I was in a way that I could make a whole career out of it and I think everything happens for a reason and I’m extremely thankful for all the voices that coached me along the way,” she tells us.

Paulette is a member of Song Suffragettes, an all-female songwriting collective in Nashville. It wasn’t until joining the prominent group that she noticed the lack of women being played on country radio. The Texas-native feels a sense of obligation for the future of female airplay, “It put responsibility on me like, okay, well what’s my part in all of this and how do I break down the barrier myself and do such a good job that they want to play what I’m putting out… Let’s be so good they can’t ignore it.”

Her current single, “F-150,” co-written with Mark Trussell, was the “it” song for her. On her way to the writing session with Trussell, Paulette pulled into three different parking lots to stop and note the melody of the chorus and idea for the hook that popped into her head immediately. It took Trussell and Paulette two writing sessions to complete the song’s lyrics. She tells us she feels the spacing of the hook makes the whole thing make sense, “Baby drive me… crazy, like you drive your F-150”

“F-150 is apart of her lane as where she wants to continue to grow as an artist and the type of song that she is passionate about and can sing over and over again and enjoy herself every single time. This is the type of song she feels equipped with to play in arenas one day.

Gaining some experience by opening for Zac Brown Band, she loves to watch artists who are exactly where she wants to be in the future, taking notes from the people who inspire her. Paulette is gearing up to release an EP this year, along with two more visually artistic music videos for new songs. Keep up with the new western artist on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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Subscribe to our Weekly Round-Up here 
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